Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Expedition to the Black Moor, Part 3

Waterday, Reaping 19, 552 CY (50 AN)

After awakening, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Torinn, and Valna set out for the mountain caves they seek. After making their way through some wetland trees and brush, they find the cave mouth.

The cave looks artificial, and its sides appear to have been melted by a great heat. As they enter, they find the hallway opens to a larger, circular chamber. On the far end is a set of metal double-doors with no handles or hinges. To the upper-right, above the door, is an artificial mechanism that resembles an eye. It begins tracking the Shields’ movement as they approach. Between the group and the door are three pedestals. On the left is a chocolate cake, on the middle pedestal sits a goblet, and on the right pedestal sits a potted orchid.

The group determines that the three pedestals are not affixed to the floor, and that they do not appear to be standing on pressure plates. Bezaldooz notes the goblet contains red wine, and so takes the goblet — finding it to be a strange, lightweight, room-temperature material with a slightly “cheap” feel to it — and drinks the contents. He finds the wine to be decent. He also samples some of the chocolate frosting on the cake, as do a few others. Peren actually cuts a piece and eats it. Bosabrieln cuts some of the orchids and braids them into his hair.

Finally the group decides to proceed. As they approach the doors, they slide open, revealing a short, metallic hallway and another set of doors. The group decides to wedge both sets of doors open with the pedestals, so Peren and Torinn drag the pedestals over to the doors and do just that.

The group proceeds through the second set of doors, finding an entrance into a larger room with a cylinder in the middle. The cylinder extends from floor to ceiling and features a hole straight through the middle. It is hollow and descends deep into the facility; the group surmises it is some sort of lift. After Bezaldooz drops a silver piece down the shaft and hears it faintly echo against the bottom, they determine that it is not worth trying to descend. They continue through the room and into the hallway on the other side of the room.

Finding doors on the sides of the hallway, they begin to enter them. They find a game room — Peren grabs a chessboard made of the same strange material as the goblet — and a room that appeared to be someone’s quarters. As they examine the room, a voice emanates from the walls, indicating that they have passed some sort of test, and that they are somewhere called the “Sentinel.” The entity further indicates that this is some sort of ship, and that there is a sickness upon it. It also lists several corporate entities, presumably the “ship’s” patrons.

As they return to the hallway, the Voice speaks again, indicating that they must engage in a security debriefing, and that an “Anne Droid” team has been dispatched to their location. As they come to an intersection, they see a group of six creatures approaching.

The creatures walk two abreast in the hallway. Two humanoids stand in front; they appear strangely angular, and their precise movements suggest they are constructs. Behind them are a metallic humanoid with a small, metallic spider. Behind those two are two hovering metallic disks with some sort of apparatus located underneath. The “Anne Droids” approach and appear ready to initiate combat.

The fight swiftly goes badly. The human-seeming constructs bash their attackers with metal fists, and the spider construct lets fly a missile that explodes, flinging Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Valna in various directions. As Valna hits the ground, she feels a sharp pain from her new holy symbol, her skin begins to loosen, and she sees sores forming where she was injured. When Peren retreats, this creates an opening for the metallic humanoid to move through the ranks and attack. It knocks Torinn unconscious and kicks him down the hallway.

It takes every effort, but the Shields manage to turn the tide. One by one, the constructs are destroyed, although it takes several healing potions and Torinn is still slain. The Shields take his body to one of the nearby rooms — quarters, given the bedding and such inside — and rest. As they look through the room, they also find several of the strange technological items they found in the dragon’s lair and in the swamp.

They are again addressed by the Voice, which indicates that an error prompted the dispatch of a hunter-killer squad rather than an examination team, and further indicates that they are required in the recreation room for a mandatory physical. Failure to comply will result in the release of nerve gas “on the grounds that new personnel are obviously terrorist saboteurs, and should be executed.” A sentrybot has been dispatched to collect them.

Deciding that they do not wish to be murdered by poison gas, they decide to follow directions. Bezaldooz takes a few minutes to cast Tenser’s Floating Disk, so that they may carry Torinn’s body with them. They open the door to find one of the hovering, metallic things, and they begin following it. Along the way, they encounter one of the angular, human-like constructs. The construct questions them briefly, and after some conversation, they determine that he is trying to repair the computer — the Voice they keep hearing. They also learn his name to be R-66Y. He’s been trying to keep a low profile, but the arrival of outsiders will probably change that. He indicates he has not seen the Platinum Claws, and when questioned about the “ship,” he explains that it is not a sailing vessel, but a conveyance through the space between planets. He doesn’t know how it crashed here. Bosabrieln idly wonders if this is the Fatehammer comet — a spacefaring vessel from another plane, brought here by strange magics.

The group catches up with their sentrybot escort and are led to another metal door. The sentrybot waits outside. The group enters to find a large gymnasium. The gym equipment has been pushed to the sides and three of the strangely-angular humanoids wait at the opposite end. One holds a rapier, one has boxing gloves, and one has a barbell. The Voice indicates the beginning of morning calisthenics, and as the music plays, the constructs attack.

This fight is much more decisive than the last. The three constructs are tough combatants, but they cannot conquer the Shields of the Sorrowfell and their robotic companion. The fencer falls quickly, having rushed into the fray and being quickly reduced to scrap. The weight trainer and the boxing trainer remain, weilding barbell and fists against the Shields. It is not enough; the constructs are destroyed within seconds of each other as the Shields overwhelm them with power and numbers.

As the music comes to an end and the Shields are resting, the Voice addresses them again. It chides them for destroying the expensive property aboard the ship, and then asks if they would also like to destroy “the herbaceous humanoids further down the hall,” suggesting that the creatures will begin to hunt them anyway.

The group then moves into a nearby room and barricades it to rest for a few hours. Bezaldooz takes the time to research Valna’s holy symbol, and determining it to be cursed, dispels the curse with ease. Valna then prepares Torinn’s body with Gentle Repose in preparation for resurrection. The group then sleeps, and with the aid of the others, Valna is able to throw off the rotting, wasting illness that afflicted her.

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